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Sacramento Mobilization: Mandella Garden Legal Victory!

This is a press release from Goli Sahba, of the Mandella Community Garden Board, regarding the recent legal victory for the garden. As people who attended the Sacramento mobilization in June remember, the Mandella Garden was a focus for many of the demonstrations during the ministerial. The decision in California Superior Court rules that CADA be required to do an environmental impact report assessing the impact on the proposed condominium to replace the garden.
Press Release: For Immediate Release, August 14, 2003

Contact: Glayol Sahba MD  (h) 448-2311 (c) 995-5334

Judge Rules CADA Violated State Law in Planning Development Project

On Tuesday, August 5, 2003, the Superior Court of California, in the County of Sacramento, ruled in favor of the Ron Mandella Community Garden, in a lawsuit charging that the Capitol Area Development Authority (CADA) had failed to comply with regulations specified under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in the planning of the proposed Fremont MEWS project. This is the development project that would replace the 30 year old Mandella Community Garden with 119 high end condominiums.

The ruling, issued by Judge Gail Ohanesian, states that "section 21090 of the public resources code does not excuse respondent CADA from completing a further environmental review of the subject project." This ruling essentially requires CADA to perform a site specific environmental impact report that assesses the impact of the proposed condominium build at 15th and Q Streets, the site of the current Mandella Community Garden.

The ruling will legally halt any construction until CADA performs an EIR, and is determined to be in compliance with the law established by CEQA.  The ruling culminates just one part of a legal struggle that is ongoing and has lasted several months.

The Mandella Garden organization plans to also appeal a lawsuit which was dismissed recently. This is a lawsuit filed in  response to CADA's failure in performance of the Garden Preservation Plan. To have City Council and DGS approval for the Fremont Mews project, CADA had promised these bodies that the Ron Mandella Community Garden would be preserved at least partially in its present location.

Additionally, a lawsuit claiming damages around last October's eviction from the garden will be filed.  With Tuesday's ruling, and the pending legal activity, it is quite clear that the struggle to save this 30 year old community garden is far from over.

According to Board Member Michael Feliciano, "this is a victory for the Mandella Gardeners, and the general public, all of whom have an interest in seeing that our public agencies are held accountable for the environmental quality of our community."

The Mandella Garden has been assessed as Downtown Sacramento's 2nd largest producer of oxygen, and all across America, community gardens are being hailed as central toquality of life in urban centers.   

"This ruling points out just one of the many illegal and unfair practices which CADA employs against our community," explains Board Member Dr. Goli Sahba. "It also vindicates the struggle by the community, garden board and members, and the many Sacramento organizations which have endorsed and sustained it. We are so grateful for all of their support.".

The Gardeners and Community supporters will meet at a Community Forum Thursday Aug. 14th at 6 and 7pm, respectively, at the adjacent Fremont Park, to plan out the future goals of this struggle.